When were you the most motivated? 

  • What did you do with that motivation?

  • Which strengths and resources did you use to do that?


Who have you motivated before?

  • How?


If your motivation is to have the absence of a problem…

    • e.g., to not have this medical problem


  • What would be different about you that fits with that (i.e., absence of the problem)?

    • e.g., how would you describe the absence of sadness?


  • And what does that allow you to do that is different than the current status quo?



Once, at a training course at the Beck Institute, Dr. Chugh heard a story told by the trainer regarding Dr. Aaron Beck’s approach with a schizophrenic patient who claimed to be Jesus.

We paraphrase a portion of the encounter below to show how Dr. Beck searched for the core value and motivation that fit with the patient’s preferred future:


Beck: And what’s so cool about being Jesus

Patient: I can help people.

Beck: what would that allow you to do, say tomorrow?

Patient: make sandwiches for the poor


What are your values?


And what (truly) motivates you?


Many of us have experience in rewarding others, or hopefully ourselves.


What are some strategies that make positive reinforcement more attainable?



What is your goal?

e.g., Not being sad?


What does that look like?


How do you know when you will have reached that goal?


e.g., A more instructive goal would be the inverse of (i.e., the lack of) sadness = happiness.


This is called goalification.

e.g., The goal to navigating out of sadness = to be happy.


This is a good time for the time impoverished to look at Stephen Covey’s matrix.



And many of us will realize we spend a lot of time doing things that aren’t important/necessary.




Think on this:





Can you reduce Q3 & Q4 items?

  • Q3 items are things like emails, popular activities (e.g., social media), interruptions
  • Q4 items are things like screen time, gossiping, list (re-)reading, trivial Wikipedia research.


Can you increase Q2 activities?

  • Q2 activities are things that take up some time up front – like concussion rehabilitation – but free up a lot of time later – through increased efficiency and less symptoms after succeeding in therapy.



  • learning to improve sleep quality so you don’t need as much sleep;
  • learning simpler nutritious meals so you save time in their preparation;
  • learning an exercise regimen that can save you time while satisfying your workout desires, etc.;
  • making a weekly time budget (just like a financial budget but for time) so you can get the help you need.
Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at the moment.

– Robert Benchley

What may be done at any time will be done at no time.

– Scottish saying

• Be totally honest with yourself: do you truly intend on doing this? • What are the odds you’ll escape the natural consequences of procrastinating • How well does it work when you Wait until you feel like doing it? • Are you acting maturely with respect to the task? Here are some strategies to get you rolling so that you have more time left for things that are more fun.

1. Intention Statement

Just writing it down is an act of commitment. For the brave, announcing it to others further cements the commitment.

2. S.M.A.R.T. goals

Breaking down goals into smaller baby-steps makes them more attainable, and fosters more motivation for getting started. For example, • if your goal is start exercising more • Monday’s goal can be to ask about a personal trainer • Wednesday’s goal can be to select a work-out schedule • etc. Read more in our article S.M.A.R.T. goals

3. Parking on a downhill slope 

The premise of this is simple: Prepare the needed items and put yourself in the situation where it’s inconvenient to stop and make excuses that will derail your task. For example, • if your goal is start exercising more • if you can’t reliably workout at home on your own, you could always go to the gym • Then you’ll have to workout as you’ve paid the admission fee and have already invested the time in driving over there • etc.

4. Eliminate distractions 

Would you wake yourself up 5-6x/night to get things done? This fits into a previous article written where we outline the 4 Ps: Prioritize, Plan, Pace, Place. For example, • If your phone keeps chiming while you are trying to get a task done, and you can’t help but entertaining it (Q3 in Covey’s time management matrix)… • …it may be a good idea to put it on silent or keep it across the room until a scheduled break. • etc.

5. “Pomodoro” technique

Anyone can do anything for just 20 minutes. For example, • If you are having a tough time doing something you ought to be doing (e.g., exercise) • why don’t you try setting a timer and going to the basement and doing nothing else but exercise until the timer sounds? • Even if you don’t exercise at what you believe your potential to be, you have taken a step in creating a new habit of devoting 20 minutes per day to exercise. • As results and fruit come from this habit, you may feel encouraged to dedicate more time to it or put more pep in your step while you are doing it.

6. Schedule a post-task reward

If you keep imposing task after task on yourself, you may not get away with it. That is, you may start to resent your life and what you are doing to yourself. Why don’t you reward yourself with a “treat” for not procrastinating and taking-care-of-business? Perhaps a mani-pedi, a massage, or hiring the kid next door to shovel your driveway.

Planning-execution cycle

  • Take care when planning
    • It doesn’t feel good if you can’t execute, so don’t overdo the planning end of the formula
  • Earn your own trust
    • Trust yourself that you’ve done it before
  • Build a reputation with yourself:
    • Do you always come through?
    • Do you have faith that when you say you’re going to do something, you’ll do it
Every action (force) in nature has an equal and opposite reaction.  

-Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion

  • Some type to monitoring is helpful. • Monitoring should focus on progress rather than goals. • Trust Newton’s 3rd Law of motion on this journey:
    • that if you put the work in, the results will flow.


Do you have a hero?


Which stories motivate you?

  Perhaps the milk farmer from Kenya, Eliud Kipchoge, who ran 3 miles to school every day becoming the first man to run a sub-2 hour marathon?   Maybe it’s a football player like Tom Brady, dubbed the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of all times)  
  • His hero is his dad, he told the press teary-eyed
  A student here often quoted “anything worth doing is worth doing poorly” and this motivated him to take on new experiences.   Check out more inspiring sayings in our motivational quotes page.  

Like most, you probably have so many stories, heroes and quotes that come to mind.


When was the last time you indulged in them? reminisced over them?

  We share an uplifting story of selfless love for country posted in a separate article: Coping with Trials and Tribulations.   We’ve copied and pasted it here for your convenience.   Bob Marley, left Jamaica at a time when it was at civil war, and after there was an attempt on his life. Bob Marley was shot in his chest and arm. He left to England for his safety. However, he felt obligated to go back to Jamaica and serve his country, even at the risk of losing his life. His values, which were the inspiration for many of his songs, allowed him to do it with fervor and zeal. He accepted the risk because his values were more important to him than his discomfort and risk he ran by returning to Jamaica.   He held the “One Love Peace Concert” in an effort to unite the country.   See how he united the prime minister and his opposition, on stage, in front of the whole country (start at 1:37 min):     Interestingly, Bob Marley was motivated by a quote form the Bible “The stone that the builder refuse, will always be the head corner stone” (A google search says this is part of Psalm 118:22) in making a conciliatory song dedicated to his extended family who gave him a poor welcome when he came to visit his father.  

Art is the gift that keeps on giving.

Music and art are not only motivating…

…but they are also created out of motivation.


Weddings, funerals, inaugurations, convocations, celebrations, preparation for a race, Christmas Carols, Friday nights, Saturday nights…

Music is something humans value and that sets the ‘mood’.


Can you think of songs, pictures or art that motivate you?

• A patient recently made an upbeat playlists that she realized helped her with her recovery. • A doctor in our program has a poster of Terry Fox in his basement. When he doesn’t feel like exercising, he imagines joining Terry for his run across Canada, but with gratitude for both of his legs.  

When was the last time you used music or posters to get you in the mood for the journey ahead?


Vision boards are great ways to focus our attention on:


1. Our Values & priorities


2. Seeing the big picture


3. A fresh perspective

  Since we talked about Terry Fox, how was Terry able to see the silver lining in the face of osteosarcoma. Did he know that his vision would raise nearly a billion dollars in cancer research over the next 40 years?!  

Read more in our article on Vision boards.



Patients have shared many stories with us over the years of family members that motivated them:

• One patient shared that he wanted to lose 100 lb. because he wanted to be around to walk his daughter down the aisle. • Another patient pointed to Coat of Arms tattooed on his arm, and welled up with Irish pride when he recalled that his forefathers fought a cause against great odds for freedom and justice; and that he wanted to live in the same spirit with courage. • Another patient remembered her mother raising her and her siblings as a single mother, and she paid hommage to her mother by sticking to a regimen when times seemed tougher than she could handle. • So many patients remembered the confidence and encouragement received from loving grandparents. • So many patients wanted to save their marriages.  

Keeping in mind those we love may be the strongest motivating factor of all.


How can you utilize this in your recovery?

The Olympics is a great example of how motivated we can be by serving our culture, country, and for some, God.   All Olympians dream of the honour of hoisting up the gold medal to the tune of their national anthem, a country who contributed to giving them the opportunity to thrive. The culture of sport brings together people of all nations to celebrate the ability to test the boundaries of human performance.   In many countries, religion and sport have become nearly synonymous
    • Brazil and soccer
    • USA and football
  Their search for deeper meaning in the sports they love seems to culminate with a spiritual connection, and enthuses them with great strength and forbearance.
    • Athletes will often say the greatest battle is with yourself.
    • And that at a point, you can reach flow, a state that is a reward in an of itself.

Have you leveraged your love for God, country or culture, and ignite your motivation for the next step in your journey?

Believe it or not, making more money or buying things doesn’t make people happier (Yu et al., 2016; Kumar et al., 2015).   We feel the spirit of this technique well illustrated in Drake’s song “God’s plan“.    

Are you comparing yourself to the crème de la crème?

  Or that lucky old son sang by the likes of many famous artists like Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, Aretha Franklin, etc.       If you look down, you often you will see many less well off.
    • 6/10 of people have a chronic medical condition.

Sometimes seeing where we are on the scale helps puts things in perspective.

  A patient recently shared that Nick Vujicic was a great source of inspiration. Even without limbs, he inspires hope and strength in many!  

What is the success you are most proud of in your life?


What is the most recent?


Most of us have achieved extraordinary things at one time or another.

  • Whether it be learning to ride a Harley
  • Overcoming illness
  • Graduating school
  • Repairing a relationship
  • Running a marathon
  • Running a successful fundraiser
  • Helping an immigrant family succeed in a new country
  • Learning a new language, instrument, etc.

All successful people leverage their strengths and resources to get one step further along their journey.

Case in point, read how Muhammad Ali leveraged his strengths in his “upset” victory over George Foreman.

Which strengths and resources did you use to accomplish your feat?

If you could speak to that version of yourself, what would they tell you?

If that version of you were to show up tomorrow in your shoes again, what would be different about the way you wake up?

Interact with people?

Cope with challenges?

Celebrate life?


  • Learn more by reading our article on Gratitude

  • Gratitude increases positive emotions which results in (Emmons et al., 2003):

    • better life satisfaction
    • general and emotional wellbeing
    • ability to deal with stressful situations as they are presented
    • feeling more connected to other people/increasing social satisfaction. 
  • Benefit-finding 

    • Every cloud has a silver lining
      • E.g. (Affleck et al., 1996)
        • Increased bonding with friends and family
        • Increasing positive emotional traits like patience, empathy, courage
        • Identification of new life priorities, realizing that changes in life path need to be made to meet desires that the individual has subconsciously or consciously.
    • Associated with positive well-being, acceptance of the situation, and overall happiness.
    • Associated with finding and developing meaning in life, and increasing motivation.
Affleck, G., & Tennen, H. (1996). Construing benefits from adversity: Adaptational significance and dispositional underpinnings. Journal of Personality, 64(4), 899-922. Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic. New York: Free Press, 2004. Print. Dubord, Greg. (2010). Part 1. Goalification. Canadian family physician Médecin de famille canadien. 56. 1312. Dubord, Greg. (2011). Part 2. Scalification. Canadian family physician Médecin de famille canadien. 57. 54. Emmons, R. A., McCullogh, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377-389. DOI:10.1037/0022-3514.84.2.377 Kumar, Amit & Gilovich, Thomas. (2015). Some “Thing” to Talk About? Differential Story Utility From Experiential and Material Purchases. Personality & social psychology bulletin. 41. 10.1177/0146167215594591. Yu, Ying & Jing, Fengjie & Su, Chenting & Zhou, Nan & Nguyen, Bang. (2016). Impact of Material vs. Experiential Purchase Types on Happiness: The Moderating Role of Self-Discrepancy. Journal of Consumer Behaviour. 15. 571-579. 10.1002/cb.1598.

Research & writing: Dr. Taher Chugh

Last update: February 2021